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I’m Powerless Over Alcohol

Wait. No, I’m not. Who said that? I’m not powerless over alcohol. I finally stopped drinking it for good and I haven’t looked back. That took and still takes ENORMOUS strength. I feel like She-Ra (but I’m not a blond).

No addict is powerless over their drug of choice. As soon as we stop – we’re constantly exerting enormous power over something that can kill us. The voice of addiction has become a permanent fixture in our brains. It might hide for years at a time, but it never leaves. Staying clean and sober in light of this, in addition to stress and pain makes us more powerful than most.

Being swept up by our drugs of choice is bad enough. Telling us that we’re powerless is demoralizing and it’s a downright lie.

The truth is that no one can make an addict get clean and sober. Only we have the power to do that. Telling a person that they have the power to stop is the truth. It’s the right thing to say. It’s the only thing addicts can hold on to sometimes – we need to be reminded that we can stop.

What Is A Dry Drunk?

I know! I know! I know! It’s an insult thrown around by folks who swear by AA. It’s supposed to refer to an individual, male or female, who – though not drinking – is still behaving as though he or she is. Wait. What?!

Weird, right?

There’s no such thing as a Dry Drunk. A person either drinks alcohol or they don’t. There is no in-between. You either drank the Slurpee or you didn’t. Right? No one can sorta-but-not-really drink a Slurpee.

How a person acts while in early sobriety can be extremely confusing to watch, this is true. However, there is a reason for this confusing behavior. Early sobriety for a hardcore alcoholic like myself left me reeling – as though I’d just clawed my way out of a horrific relationship. Well, that’s EXACTLY what had just happened. Of course most things I said confused people. I was SAD and DEPRESSED and EASILY STARTLED and PISSED OFF. That can be some jacked up confusing behavior. All those feelings certainly felt confusing. I was confused. Nothing felt stable.

The good news? Once we get sober, we eventually get our legs back. They don’t stay wobbly forever. Clarity replaces confusion. But we can’t just be disciplined with our sobriety and our recovery. We have to OWN them – like a mama bear with her cubs – we have to shower our sobriety and recovery with the ultimate protection. Then we can live and be proud, and these two things are not insignificant.

The Most Important Relationship

Is the one I have with myself.

Do I respect myself? Am I proud of what I do? Am I confident about what I say? Do my goals challenge me? Do I care for my health (in every sense)? Do I eat well? Do I let my-self enjoy the small things like the occasional piece of chocolate cake?

Yes! YES, I do. 🙂 I’m so happy.

OUCH.

Sometimes life just isn’t much fun. Sometimes we have to make really uncomfortable choices and decisions. And then we have to face the consequences of those decisions. BLAH. Zero Fun!! But life doesn’t wait around while we trudge along, does it … no. It doesn’t seem to care much for our difficulties. Traffic still speeds by. The birds still tweet. The grass still grows and yada yada.

I think the best way to get through painful life moments, like the death of a relationship, is to stay busy. I used to be an alcoholic and one I thing I know for sure – the ONE option I DO NOT have to help me move through painful life experiences is drinking alcohol. All that would do is compound the pain by temporarily saturating it with something that will make me feel even worse later. No thanks.

So – instead of getting drunk, I color. I walk a lot. I read. I play with my kittens. I watch a little TV. My house is spotless. I’m writing. I communicate with other human beings, and I play my word game on my phone.

There are plenty of things to do while sober to help a person move through pain. It’s looking for them and then Doing them that counts. All of the answers I’m looking for are already inside my brain.

Time for breakfast. Then I’m off to the gym. 🙂

Anxiety During Sobriety

My anxiety has always reminded me of times I got high and hated it. I never really enjoyed smoking weed much in the first place, but some highs were definitely worse than others.

After taking a walk a few minutes ago and experiencing a lot of anxiety at the same time (it felt like another bad high) I decided that if I focus on things that calm me ~ like my bedroom in the wee morning hours or the view outside my windows or my breath or watching my kittens play together ~ it helps to bring me ‘back’ to front and center where things aren’t so scary. Apparently, focus and commanding my brain’s attention are important here because it works every time I do it.

I’m sure that breaking up with my boyfriend today didn’t help things, but ‘things’ weren’t going well and hadn’t been for some time. There might just be something to staying single for the first year of sobriety after all. I had just met my boyfriend before I chose to stop drinking and we have experienced a lot together in a very short time.

But this has been my first ever sober relationship and I wanted to make sure that I made every right sober consideration here before throwing in the towel. And I did. I’m sorry that I had to end it, but I know doing that was the right thing to do. My heart is a bit heavy, but my spirit is soaring.

🙂

171 Days Sober!

This is a perfect number of sober days to celebrate with a – what else?

Oh SNAP!!

Why do we relapse?

It is excruciating to discover that someone has relapsed. Especially when they’ve accumulated substantial time in sobriety. What on earth happened, I wonder. How could this person give up so much hard work and so much sober time – for what?

Just about anything, anyone, and any occasion can be blamed for relapsing. But ultimately, it’s a lack of the upkeep of the perimeter around our sobriety that is our undoing.

Think of a castle wall. The King, or Queen in my case (me) has her workers march out to the wall on a regular basis to check it for cracks and wear so that steps can be taken to fix it. The Queen doesn’t want or need to wrestle with any outside drama. Unfortunately for her, she has something in her life called the AV (Addictive Voice). And while she may turn her back on it indefinitely, it never truly dies. And if she makes the mistake of ever giving it ANY stage time in her head, it will eventually get the better of her. She must always be on guard for this.

So it is with the addict in recovery. We have to fortify the walls of our sobriety with impenetrable confirmations of self-acceptance, self-control, and curious awareness along with the fortitude of a warrior who will do anything and everything to keep the grounds inside the castle walls safe.

Having to restart our time in sobriety and recovery does not bode well for feelings of accomplishment and pride. That said, it is a testament to the addict’s stamina and courage to stand up to the face of a fantastically shameful fall.

If we are anything – we are resilient.

Sponsors

For those of you new to the terminology tossed around in sober and recovery circles, a sponsor is someone usually found in AA groups, but not always. Their role in AA is to guide a younger (in sober time) member through the 12 steps. But all sponsors can be immensely helpful to a new person in any sobriety group so long as the sponsor has quieted most of their own demons first.

A sponsor is not there to offer permission or approval of a person’s activities. Their role is not to act as a surrogate parent. They’re mentors. And good sponsors have very underlined boundaries. A good sponsor doesn’t cross the sponsor/mentor – sponsee relationship and they don’t allow the sponsee to cross it either. They don’t become friends. This isn’t to say they can’t become close.

I was very close with my sponsor and I went to her for her opinions and guidance when I felt utterly stuck over something important. I didn’t run to her for help with basic everyday dilemmas or just to chit chat about the lapping of waves and whatnot. The woman had a life and I was respectful of that.

It is also my experience that the sponsor – sponsee relationship is not meant to or supposed to last. At some point the sponsor has to cut the umbilical. Just like the parent who has to set their teenager free after graduation from high school. We, as newly unpickled creatures, must be set free so that we can test the strength of our new sober wings.

Something Isn’t Right

Here I am, a Recovery Coach and I’m unable to coach myself. Is this normal? My boyfriend, for all intents and purposes, is a groovy guy. He’s smart, he’s witty, he’s funny, he’s employed, he’s sober, he’s in love with me, he tries to remember to put the seat down, my kittens like him, and he’s even sorta cute when the sun shines on him just right – but something’s just not right.

I can’t figure it out. The more he tries to inject himself into my space emotionally, the more I push back. Last night we even had the sex talk. As in, “Baby, why don’t we have sex more often? You’ve got us down to one day a week.” That’s not true either – it’s only been down to once a week this week.

I don’t want to have sex with the man. What can I say? I love sex. I really do. Just not with him. I can’t explain it because physically he’s everything a woman would want – more than some could handle. If I may be so blunt.

…. Sigh. I do enjoy his company. I do enjoy listening to his stories (he’s a great story teller), yet I’m fully aware of the fact that my nearly zero interest in sex is having an effect on our relationship. Perhaps it’s that I’m new in sobriety after a 20 year drinking career? Perhaps it’s that I’ve just exited Menopause? Perhaps it’s that I’m just not physically attracted to the man? Hm. Could be a combo deal there.

Such are the conundrums that life has to offer. Once I get this one figured out, I’ll surely encounter something new.

Shadows

They’re great for making analogies, aren’t they?

So elusive. So intangible and dark. But real all the same.

In a way, they remind me of sobriety. Sobriety always seemed just out of reach during the midst of addiction, when really, the potential for it was right in front of my face the whole time.

The easiest and the hardest thing to do was stop drinking.

Sober on the Elliptical!

Okay – that’s not me and, unfortunately, I don’t look that good. HOWEVER- that is the machine I’m killin’ it on and I’m looking better every day. Or at least I think I am.

I’ve noticed a change in the shape and size of my lower thighs for sure. And I love it! That alone entices me to keep going back. However, and maybe this is due to my age (I’m 40 + 10), I’m not noticing any weight loss. So – instead of freaking out about that, I’ve decided I just don’t care. As long as my muscles look toned, I’m good. And for the record, I’m 5″5 and 128 lbs.

Apparently, my height and weight are acceptable for American society so long as I don’t go flaunting the muscles that still need some attention (my butt!!) . I’m working on it, okay?

Anyway – exercise in early sobriety feels so good. I can honestly equate it with the deliciousness of a nice, creamy, strawberry shake. Good Lord!! When I was drinking alcohol – I never worked out and I couldn’t have cared less about the experience I have when I down a strawberry milkshake.

I just love being sober. Everything that Life has to offer is so much less – painful.

So Many Choices!

Recently, I read something that said “Life is an experiment.” I found that curious. I can see Life being an adventure because – HELLO? It is definitely one of those, but an experiment? So – I decided to let that idea marinate on a back burner until this morning. And now I’m all over it.

How is Life an experiment? I’m sure you’d answer this differently than I will, but here goes. I was an alcoholic and now I’m not because I quit drinking. I can take that sentence in numerous directions, but for the purpose of this post – my next comment is about choices. And I think therein lies the experiment part of Life.

Everyone is confronted with having to make choices on a daily basis. Some choices are rather insignificant and the outcome might be the same either way. BUT – other choices are monumental and the consequences will be monumental – either way. Like, “Do I divorce this guy or WHAT?!”

I had an amazing dream about 25 years ago that I hope to never forget. It involved having to make a very crucial choice.

In the dream, I’m walking down a sidewalk in front of a single story old folks home. The front of the home is lined with flowery bushes as is the sidewalk on both sides. It’s very quiet, pretty and peaceful here and there’s no one else around.

The sidewalk turns into a Y. I decide to take the path to the left to see where it goes. It winds up cutting between two buildings of the old folks home and leads to a manicured and spacious courtyard. I notice that no one is there either. I keep walking down the sidewalk and it opens up a massive open space that lines a beach further down about 100 yards or so.

I continue walking towards the beach when I notice the sound of harmonious music coming from my right It sounds nearly angelic – if such instrumentation exists. I look to my right and see a huge group of Native American Indians sitting cross-legged on the sand playing all sorts of instruments that I’ve never seen before. The music coming from them was so beautiful it nearly made me cry.

I kept walking and stopped when I encountered 7 black men to my right. They were ridiculously tall, they weren’t wearing shirts and they were all bald. The man in the middle was looking down at me while the three men on either sides of him had their heads tilted to the sky with their eyes closed.

I understood that the black man looking at me was there to watch me make a decision. I looked around and noticed the beach in front of me, and to my left was a bar. It was closed, but there were people hanging around it. There were also numerous rows of metal fold-up chairs next to the bar. I noticed that people sat sporadically spaced apart there, too. They didn’t know one another. Even though I didn’t see my mother, I knew she was there somewhere.

I chose to go to the bar. Not to see my mother, but because I wanted alcohol. And ultimately – that is the life choice I made. I chose alcohol over the Life and beauty and freedom that is the sea.

I finally got it right and got sober five months ago, but I’ve yet to discover how 20 years of drinking is going to catch up with me. How would my life be different today had I gone to the beach in that dream? How would my life be different today had I recognized the value of that dream and chose not to drink during my awake life?

Hhmm,

The Unicorns Are Gone

The highlights of drinking used to be downright merriment. I was social. I was cute. I was happy. I was bouncy. I pranced with the Unicorns. And though I’ve never used the term, “Liquid Gold” is often used to describe the euphoric affects of alcohol. Personally, I prefer “Lovely Sedation” or “Bliss”. Too damn bad it never lasted.

Us addicts USED to be nonaddicts too! Remember those days? Oh yeah! Until one morning we woke up and realized that several sips of sauce was what we needed to get back into the game. We needed to drink because we were beginning to go into withdrawal – the position our body takes when it recognizes there’s no alcohol in it. It’s not a happy place. We tremble, we have the jitters, our face might be red, we experience social anxiety, our appetite is shot, and the idea of a drink takes up the majority of free space in our brains. That’s it’s only 7:30 a.m. is hardly worth mentioning.

I remember feeling really put out and indignant if I couldn’t have a drink when I wanted one. And I’d become a bull at that point. Nothing would get in my way of satiating my thirst for a drink. Nothing mattered except that. If I had to walk five miles up hill roundtrip for my bottle, I would. I can’t think of anything else in my life that caused me to feel such deep seated angst and anger.

Those days are behind me now. I just passed the five month mark in sobriety on the 3rd of August. Yay! I never have to experience withdrawal again so long as I live – so long as I never swallow alcohol again. And all my future days should be filled with wonder, love, peace, unicorns, kittens, nachos, and a large lottery jackpot.

Okay – I’ll settle for the kittens, and calm with a chance of cloudy and some showers.

The Lesser of Two Evils

Here’s an example of the Super Thick Cut circular bologna that goes on inside the mind of the alcoholic.

“Wine or withdrawal? Hm. Not much of a choice here…Hm.” (Drinks and thinks, which isn’t possible). “Hmmm. The result of drinking is withdrawal. I know this and that is the darndest thing. One leads to the other. But withdrawal hurts.” (Drinks more and tries to concentrate) “What to do, what to do?” (Turns on the TV and continues to drink.) “If I stop now (looks at clock – it’s noon), I’ll probably go into withdrawal around 3:00. That’ll screw up my night and I won’t get any sleep if I stop now.” (Drinks more) “I’ll polish off this bottle and then deal with it…”

That’s just one example of how we talk to and reason with ourselves when we’re drinking. Pretty sad, eh?

Unfortunately – life doesn’t always afford us numerous fun choices. Sometimes, we have to pick between the lesser of two evils. Here’s the thing – while choosing in the moment may be painful, right choice opens a new road toward a brighter future. Hm. Go figure!!

Perception and right attitude are everything. Feeling pissy? PRETEND already and do it anyway!

Screw This! I QUIT!

Ever say that?

Ever say, “Now what am I supposed to do?” Or, “How am I supposed to deal with THAT?” How about this one: “I don’t want THIS or THAT. I want them both and I don’t want either!” “Right NOW!”

HA! It feels like insanity, right?

Finding answers can be extremely frustrating. Why do they have to be so damn elusive? I don’t know… That sensation of not knowing is terribly unsettling. Especially when it’s coupled with the sensation that an answer feels necessary right away. Our need for instant gratification is a game changer. It really puts us in a dilemma, doesn’t it? It gives us an opportunity that we’re not quite sure we asked for or even wanted. We can practice patience while the answer comes to us or we can plow through life until we assuage that unsettled feeling – with alcohol, sex, exercise, drugs, isolation, people, and yada yada yada.

Instead of throwing up my hands in dismay at the onset of this conundrum, I just allow the answers I need to float to the surface. I’ve discovered that they will float to the surface when I get out of my head and out of my own way. And funny enough, not everything is the emergency I tend to make it.

Huh. Go figure.

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